The Diet Principal

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The first paragraph of this book’s introduction should set off warning bells in the head of the chronic dieter. In a style reminiscent of an athletic coach giving her team a pep talk, Victoria Principal writes that the reader is about to enter a new, thin life and, in fact, is already on the way if he has read as far as the third sentence.

Yes, Principal has a stunning figure, and yes, she did once weigh thirty-five pounds more than she does now, but these two facts hardly qualify her as a diet expert. She did research through a nutritionist when she embarked on her own diet, so her “diet principles” and chapters on nutrition have a sound basis. The premise is so basic, however, that unless one is new to dieting, it will sound very familiar.

Principal presents three diet plans which she says work for her. One is a thirty-day plan that emphasizes eating chicken and fish, low-fat salads, and drinking eight glasses of liquid a day. The second diet plan is the “bikini diet,” for those occasional times when one quickly needs to lose five to ten pounds. It is basically a scaled-down version of the thirty-day plan that will meet nutritional requirements for one week of stringent dieting, but it will require quite a lot of willpower to follow it. The third plan is a “diet for life"--an expansion of the thirty-day diet. Principal’s recipes are decent but not extraordinary, and the only suggestion that was new to this reviewer was that of dipping the salad fork into the side serving of dressing before each bite instead of pouring the dressing over the salad.

If one needs help telling a waiter to serve the salad dressing on the side, then one ought to buy this book. Otherwise, following any diet based on good nutritional principles will do just as well.